E3 Visa

Australian nationals in the UK can apply for the US E-3 visa direct from the US Embassy in London.

The E3 visa for speciality occupations is a US immigration route open exclusively to Australian nationals.

Under the E3 visa, holders can come to the US to live and work, and bring their spouse and children.

The E3 visa is in many ways similar to the H-1B visa, but it offers a significant number of advantages for Australian citizens, including lower application costs and significantly better odds of being granted the visa.

To be eligible, you must hold an undergraduate degree and the job you have been offered must also require a bachelor-level or higher qualification.

Professional advice will provide critical insight into the visa criteria and application process to optimise your application for US entry clearance.

NNU Immigration are here to help!

NNU Immigration are specialists across all classes of US visa, including the E3 visa.

We offer a specialist service for Australian nationals applying to the US Embassy in London for an E3 visa and for dependent E3 visas for their family.

The complexity with the E3 visa is generally surrounding the job that has been offered, and whether the role qualifies as a ‘speciality occupation’.

In the absence of a definitive list of speciality occupation roles, we can provide insight into the decisions being made in this area by US authorities, particularly as new professions emerge in fields such as STEM.

With exceptional knowledge and insight into the US visa application processes, we can advise on eligibility and provide full support with compiling and submitting your application.

US immigration policy is undergoing a period of considerable upheaval; we can advise on the prevailing impact of any changes in US visa rules that may impact your application.

E-3 visa articles

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E3 Visa FAQs

What is the E3 visa?

The E3 visa is available to Australian citizens under the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA). Under the E-3 visa, Australian professionals with a degree can go to the US to work in a speciality occupation requiring a minimum degree-level education.

What are the E3 eligibility requirements?

Also known as the Australian Specialty Occupation Professional visa, the E3 requirements will see the applicant and their job scrutinized against the visa criteria.

A Labor Condition Application (LCA) must be carried out in order for the Department of Labor to determine if the job meets the applicable standards and the job must pay the prevailing wage for the State in which the job will be based.

The applicant will have to show they are an Australian citizen with a genuine job offer in the US for a role that qualifies as a specialty occupation. They will also have to evidence they have a university degree, that they have any necessary licences to be employed in their profession and that they intend to leave the US at the end of their visa expiry.

The E3 classification in the United States only applies to nationals of Australia, their spouses and children under the age of 21. Furthermore, as the principal applicant you must be travelling to the USA solely to perform services in what’s known as a specialty occupation.

To qualify as a specialty occupation this will require the theoretical and practical application of a body of knowledge in a professional field, as well as the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree, or its equivalent, as a minimum for entry into the occupation.

As a general guide, to establish equivalency of a university degree, 3 years of professional experience is usually used as a substitute for each year of university-level education. As such, you would need to show 12 years’ experience in the field you are applying to work in.

Further, it is not enough that an applicant for an E3 Visa USA holds a particular degree, whereby the job itself must also require a bachelor-level or higher qualification.

Accordingly, to qualify for an E3 Visa USA, you must satisfy all of the following eligibility criteria, namely:

  • You are a national of Australia, although the spouse or child(ren) of the principal applicant need not be Australian citizens
  • You possess the necessary academic or other qualifying credentials to fill a speciality occupation role in the United States
  • You will fill a role that qualifies as a specialty occupation, and have a legitimate offer of employment in the United States.

Can Australian permanent residents apply?

Australian permanent residents are not eligible for the E3 visa. The E3 is only open to Australian citizens with a valid Australian passport at the time of making the application.

What is a specialty occupation?

A specialty occupation requires:

  • A theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge; and
  • The attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.

Can I rely on experience rather than a degree?

In certain circumstances, you may be eligible for the E3 visa if you can show sufficient equivalent professional experience in place of an undergraduate degree. As a general rule, three years of professional experience may be relied on as an equivalent of one year of university education but it is advisable to take professional guidance on your circumstances before applying.

If you are looking to apply on the basis of extensive professional experience as an equivalent to a university degree you will need to prepare extensive evidence relating to your work experience, training and education to support your case.

The decision will ultimately rest with the consular officer deciding your application who has discretion to determine whether you meet the threshold under the visa.

Can you bring dependants under the E3 visa?

Yes, E3 visa holders can bring their spouses and dependant (unmarried) children with them to the US.

While the principal visa holder must be Australian, there are no rules on the nationality of E3 dependants.

Can E3 spouses work?

E3 spouses are permitted to work in the US lawfully for the validity of the principal visa holder’s permitted stay. E3 spouses can work without restriction, which can be other than a specialty occupation.

Spouses should apply to the Department of Homeland Security for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD, Form I-765) when they arrive in the US, which they can then use to verify their permission to work to US employers.

How to apply for an E3 visa

There are several steps involved in the E3 Visa USA application process. The order of these steps can vary depending on which Embassy or Consulate you apply. Applications should be made to the US Consular Post or Embassy in your country of residence, such as the US Embassy in London if you live in the UK.

If you are already in the US under another visa category, you would apply direct to USCIS to change your status.

For the UK Embassy, you will need to complete the online visa application using Form DS-160, which includes uploading a photo in the relevant format. You will also need to pay the non-refundable visa application fee and schedule an interview.

Typically, you must schedule an appointment for your visa interview at the US Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. Although you may schedule your interview at any US Embassy or Consulate, it may be difficult to qualify for a visa outside of your place of permanent residence. As such, if you live in the UK you should schedule your interview at the US Embassy in London.

When you attend your interview you should bring with you various documents, including the following:

  • A print-off of the confirmation page for Form DS-160
  • A print-off of the appointment confirmation page
  • Your passport or other travel document. This must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your stay in the United States
  • A 5 x 5cm (2”x2”) colour photograph taken within the last 6 months, unless you have already successfully uploaded a photograph with your online application
  • Documentary evidence of your status in the UK if you are not a UK or EU passport holder
  • Documentary evidence of previously issued US visas
  • A job offer letter or other documentation from your employer establishing that upon entry to the United States you will be engaged in a specialty occupation and that you will be paid the higher of the actual or prevailing wage
  • The approved LCA specified for E3 Australia
  • Documentary evidence of your academic or other qualifying credentials
  • A certified copy of any required licence or other official permission required to practice in the speciality occupation in question.

In the event that a US license or other official permission is required to perform the duties described in the petition, but such permission or license is not available prior to entry into the United States, you must be able to show that you will obtain such licensure within a reasonable period of time following admission to the USA.

You may also need to provide additional documentation if you have ever been arrested, cautioned or convicted, or if you have a medical condition that could affect your eligibility for a visa, or if you have ever been denied entry into or deported from the United States.

Finally, if you are seeking to establish degree equivalency for a speciality occupation, you should be prepared to provide documentation during the course of your interview outlining your work history, education and training.

The consular officer at the UK Embassy conducting your interview will determine whether the educational and employment information provided meets the eligibility requirements for an E3 Visa USA, in addition to the other matters set out above.

How long does the E-3 visa last?

The E3 visa will mirror the validity of the LCA, which will be for a period of up to two years.

Can you renew the E-3 visa?

It is possible to apply to renew the E3 visa for a further two years, provided you continue to meet the visa requirements.

There is no limit to the number of renewals you can apply for.

Is there an E3 visa cap?

Yes, a maximum number of 10,500 E3 visas can be issued per year. However, these are exclusive to Australian nationals and offer applicants significantly better odds than the standard H-1B visa.

Note also that the cap does not apply to E3 visa dependents.

Will my employer need to file a petition?

Unlike the H-1B visa, your prospective employer does not have to file a petition but they do have to obtain a Labor Condition Application (LCA) from the Department of Labor.

The LCA refers to an application filed with the DOL by prospective employers on behalf of workers applying for work authorisation for various non-immigrant statuses, including the E3 Visa USA status.

This requires the employer to attest to certain labor conditions to which it will adhere, as well as declaring the job title, rate of pay, period of employment, and length and location of work of the non-immigrant employee in question.

The LCA must be certified by the DOL and submitted with Form I-129 in order for the E3 Visa USA petition to be approved by USCIS. Please note, until the DOL develops a new LCA for an E3 Visa USA, your employer should use the standard ETA-9035 and ask that it be annotated as an E3 LCA.

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